This alone should be an impeachable offense

The Pentagon leaks an explosive story of Trump’s dereliction of duty — widening the rift between the military and the White House

The news was chilling: Russians have been paying Taliban militants to kill Americans in Afghanistan even as peace talks with the Taliban were underway, intelligence sources told The New York Times. Actually, the more you roll this disclosure over in your mind, the worse it gets.

Protecting U.S. troops is Job One for any president, but particularly this one who insists on its primacy. And he isn’t doing his job to protect our sons and daughters in the field. U.S. troops were attacked and we did nothing about it.

This alone should be an impeachable offense.

But it says more, much more about Trump’s turn away from real-world problems that affect the rest of us, from pandemic to income inequality to racism. Thanks to coronavirus and joblessness, the disclosure wasn’t even considered the most important news of the day.

The Times said U.S intelligence has evidence that a Russian military spy unit has been paid Islamic militants linked to the Taliban to target Americans and other coalition troops. The Times account was quickly confirmed by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Just why Russia is doing this remains murky: Perhaps Russia wanted to break up peace talks with violence against Americans, perhaps it was in retaliation for a U.S. attack in Syria that unintentionally killed Russian soldiers.

Whatever it was or is, no one knows how many of the 20 Americans killed last year in Afghanistan were targeted this way. It’s a different picture than Trump appearing with U.S. troops for a celebratory photo.

What we do know is that U.S. troops were attacked and we did nothing about it.

The disclosure emerged as The United States finally was telling British allies about it this week. Does that mean that the United States officially was withholding these developments from allies—another abridgment of presidential duty or at least moral responsibility?

Is this not an escalation of anti-American, anti-allied interests at a time when we’re talking about pulling troops from Europe?

Note, too: The leak didn’t come from the White House. That normally closed-mouth U.S. defense and intelligence folks would discuss this with these reporters who cover these areas seems a direct reflection of the growing rift between the Pentagon and Trump over national security policy-making. According to The Times, military officials offered a range of anti-Russia alternatives in March, and Trump has sat on them.

For the United States apparently to do nothing at all is stunning all by itself.

We’ve seen the White House interfere with the military hierarchy over assignment and promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who spoke out after Trump’s impeachable blackmail attempts of the Ukraine president. We’ve seen Trump moving to manipulate military justice courts in the cases involving former SEAL Edward Gallagher and the Navy captain who tried to help a virus-infected crew.

We’ve seen the generals increasingly willing to split publicly with Trump, and Trump, in turn, insulting and belittling people like James Mattis, the former secretary of defense; John Kelly Jr., the former chief of staff; and others. Only Trump himself knows the answers on foreign policy.

Except on issues involving Russia, and once again, we find ourselves scratching the head wondering whether Trump is not acting here—even issuing some formal knock-it-off message to the Kremlin out of some long, never-fully disclosed loyalty to the Kremlin.

With the extraordinary Trump administration effort this week to overturn criminal charges against the twice-admitted liar Michael T. Flynn, unsubstantiated “treason” calls against former President Barack Obama, we find ourselves still steeped in the Trump-Russia question.

Quite to the contrary of Trump’s self-proclaimed toughness on Russia, we are hearing of Trump’s maneuvering to get Russian leader Vladimir Putin back into the Group of Eight meetings. There is no more talk of sanctions against Russia—only acquiescence to Russian control of Syria, acceptance of ending Russia nuclear weapons treaties, proposed withdrawal of American troops from Europe, and constant diminution of NATO.  Russia is still in Ukraine, Russia is still supporting Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Russia is still reportedly active in seeking to disrupt U.S. elections.

Where is the so-called Trump toughness?

Yes, we’re in a pandemic, an economic tsunami and widespread protests for social justice. But Trump has found time for anti-immigration moves and an attack on the U.S. health system along with personal promotion, campaign rallies, and golf.

Do you think he could spend a few minutes on protecting Americans in uniform?

We’re seeing that the need to declare Afghanistan over, when it is not, in time for the Trump re-election campaign apparently outweighs the lives of our troops.

 

Edited story from AlterNet by Terry H. Schwardon / DC Report

Russia offered a bounty for killing US troops! …..Putin loving Trump is cool with it

Outrage has greeted media reports that say American intelligence officials believe a Russian military intelligence unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, including targeting Americans.
New York Times, citing its sources as unnamed officials briefed on the matter, and followed up by the Washington Post. The reports said that the US had come to the conclusion about the operation several months ago and offered rewards for successful attacks last year.
The Times wrote: “The intelligence finding was briefed to Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March.” White House officials apparently drew up several possible options to retaliate against the Kremlin, ranging from a diplomatic reprimand right through to fresh sanctions. However, the White House has so far not taken any action.
It is not be proven yet if bounties were paid out for successfully killing American soldiers.

As the news broke it triggered a fierce response from top Democrats, especially those who have long pointed to what they say is Trump’s overly close relationship to Russia’s autocratic leader, Vladimir Putin. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine: “Trump was cozying up to Putin and inviting him to the G7 all while his administration reportedly knew Russia was trying to kill US troops in Afghanistan and derail peace talks with the Taliban.”

Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia and a professor of political science at Stanford University, said: “I hope the American people will be as outraged as I am over Trump’s complacency. After he knew about these Putin-ordered contracts to kill US soldiers, Trump invited Putin to the G7.”

John Weaver, a Republican political consultant who helped found the anti-Trump Lincoln Project group, also expressed outrage.

John Weaver@jwgop
Trump knew Russia was paying bounties on the lives of American servicemen in Afghanistan. He took no action against Putin. Instead, @realDonaldTrump REWARDED Putin by trying to insert Russia back into the G-7. And, not enough, withdrawing 25,000 American troops from Germany.

The news comes after the US reached an initial peace deal with the Taliban, which aimed for the full withdrawal of the US military from the war-torn country within just over a year. The pact was supposed to kickstart talks between the rebels and the Afghan government but they have not materialized.

The unit that US officials have reportedly identified as responsible for the bounties has also been linked to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, in Britain in 2018, which triggered a huge diplomatic dispute between Moscow and London.

Trump’s relationship with Russia has been the source of much scandal and frustration with US allies, especially in Europe.

Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 US election were part of the basis of the Robert Mueller investigation that dogged much of Trump’s time in office. He has repeatedly flown in the face of his own intelligence briefings to say that he believes Russian denials of meddling in US affairs and has touted his close friendship with Putin as a benefit to the US. He has also pushed for Russia to be allowed back into the G7 group of major industrial powers, while at the same questioning the role of NATO.

from The Guardian

Hey Covidiots, even Darth Vader is wearing a mask

Right-wing Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney posted a photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney sporting a face mask on Friday and took a shot at the manhood of people who refuse to wear face coverings in a seeming jab at Covidiot leader Donald Trump. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, posted the photo of her father as lawmakers push harder for their constituents to wear face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus. Trump has been loath to wear a mask, despite the advice of public health experts. “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks,” the younger Cheney tweeted Friday along with a photo of her father wearing a mask.

Liz Cheney ✔@Liz Cheney

Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks

Masks remain a sticking point for some politicians, most notably Trump, even as the number of coronavirus cases climbs past 2.4 million, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that everyone “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”

But Trump has continued to defy health recommendations and has been reluctant to be seen wearing a mask in public. He recently told The Wall Street Journal that masks are “a double-edged sword” and also suggested that masks are being worn as a political statement, rather than a health precaution, to show disapproval of him.

Some Republican governors, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have resisted mandating face masks be worn in public in their states despite new coronavirus peaks in their states. Experts say wearing a face mask or other face-covering could reduce the transmission of Covid-19 by as much as 50%.

Cheney’s comments on Friday were not her first to run counter to Trump’s decisions in combating the coronavirus. Cheney said in March that the US must address its health care crisis in order to restore the economy, as some of Trump’s allies pushed to reopen the country despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Cheney wrote on Twitter.

In April, Cheney pushed back against a false claim by Trump that he has “total” authority to decide to lift restrictions governors have imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic.”The federal government does not have absolute power,” Cheney tweeted at the time, though she did not mention Trump explicitly. The Wyoming Republican invoked the 10th Amendment to the Constitution in her tweet, saying, “‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ United States Constitution, Amendment X.”

Cheney is not alone in calling for mask-wearing. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, whose state of Florida has seen a recent surge of coronavirus cases, said Wednesday that “everyone should just wear a damn mask.”

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Friday that if elected president, he would make wearing a face covering in public mandatory. Last month, Trump and the White House had mocked Biden for wearing a mask outdoors to a Memorial Day event, leading Biden to fire back in an interview with CNN, calling Trump “an absolute fool.”

From CNN

Think the worst is over? Have you seen the Covidiots?

This is spiraling out of control

Locally, you see more people finally wearing masks, that’s a good thing, Thank You!
Then you look at Trinidad or go out to Ruth Lake or Trinity Lake and you see the Covidiots running amok spreading their ignorance and infection. This is what a lack of leadership looks like. Locally and most of all nationally. This stupidity is going to make this health catastrophe and economic Armageddon last for years and we’re all going to suffer. -TE

As America once again plunges into a pandemic crisis, with Covid-19 infections exploding across the country, and especially in red states, Trump continues to plot against America’s best interests. Refusing to provide any leadership over the last three months, he’s made the crisis actively worse by urging Americans not to wear masks,  promoting dangerous “cures,” ruminating about injecting patients with disinfectants, undercutting government scientists, ordering vital testing regimes to be  “slow[ed] down”, or halted altogether, walking away from a national tracing program, filling marathon pandemic briefings with ceaseless misinformation, making empty promises about testing, and constantly lying about the state of the crisis, insisting the deadly virus would soon “disappear,” “like a miracle.” This is treasonous behavior.

All of it is wrapped in a constant flow of confusion and public contradictions, a textbook approach for how to plunge the country into chaos and wreck the economy.  It’s exactly what an American foe would do. The U.S. today stands as an international pariah, claiming nearly 25 percent of the world’s coronavirus deaths while accounting for just four percent of the world’s population. On Wednesday, the U.S. logged an astounding 45,000 news cases.

Yet we still don’t know why Trump is doing this — we don’t know why he’s plotting against America during a once-in-a-century public health crisis, even as his erratic actions increasingly doom his re-election chances. And it feels like the press is too nervous to ask why.

The media for months has preferred to suggest Trump was merely distracted, “slow” to respond to the crisis; that he simply “missed” the Covid-19 warnings. Trump “ignored” crucial warnings, the Associated Press recently concluded, noting that key aides were unable to “redirect the president’s attention” to Covid-19 in January, as Trump’s impeachment trial unfolded this winter. The message from seemed to be that if Trump’s attention had been directed towards the looming pandemic, the government’s response would have been entirely different, and far more robust.

This sanitized explanation is because the Beltway press doesn’t want to ask the far more disturbing questions about why Trump essentially ordered the government to stand down for a virus invasion that has claimed the lives of more than 112,000 Americans.

The New York Times recently published a piece headlined, “Why the Coronavirus is winning,” in which Trump’s name was never mentioned. Instead, the paper ambiguously stated, “Government officials, for their part, can slow the virus’s spread by encouraging all of these steps, as well as by organizing widespread testing and competent tracing of people who are likely to have the virus.”

It’s not as if Trump has simply been misguided and made wrong decisions along the way. It’s that Trump purposefully refused to use the vast powers of the federal government to protect the country from the virus crisis, and has urged Republican governors to rush ahead with deadly re-open plans. His actions have killed untold numbers of Americans.

Having the worst pandemic response among all developed nations doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work to screw up this badly. The failure to protect has been so thorough and so complete it’s difficult to suggest it’s happened coincidentally.

Maybe Trump’s vengeful. Maybe he’s under the thumb of a foreign entity? He wants to cause panic and cancel the November elections? He’s a nihilist? What matters is asking the difficult questions and pondering what the Trump presidency is truly about, no matter what lurks in the shadows.

It didn’t have to be this way. “Experts in public health are essentially unanimous that minimizing the toll of the virus depends on forceful federal action to supercharge the supply chain for testing, massively increase the daily number of tests, mobilize a nationwide contact-tracing program and get infected people to self-isolate,” Amanda Marcotte wrote at Salon. Trump had limitless resources he could have used to help fight the pandemic.

The huge surge in cases today, largely in southern and western states that have aggressively reopened, is driven by the fact that the administration is purposefully giving states no guidance in terms of how to proceed. It’s all by design. Trump sees the virus as being in his “rearview mirror,” the Times reported.

Quick example: Trump has repeatedly claimed that when he came into office his administration inherited an “empty” and “bare” Strategic National Stockpile, including no ventilators in stock. In truth, SNS had 16,660 ventilators on hand in January 2017. That’s more than the Trump administration has distributed during the pandemic.

His dereliction of duty during the reopen matches his failures back in March when he refused to take steps to protect the country. “Trump was warned countless times of the epidemic threat in his presidential daily briefings, by federal scientists, the health secretary Alex Azar, Peter Navarro, his trade adviser, Matt Pottinger, his Asia adviser, by business friends and the world at large,” the Financial Times reported.

America has never faced a national, extended crisis of this magnitude where the President of the United States is so clearly part of the problem. That’s a truly radical development and the news media ought to be treating it as a monumental story.

 

From Press Run, Eric Boehlert Subscribe

 

 

Trump’s assault on America and everything real and true is escalating

Trump spent last week turning his back on a raging pandemic, firing a federal prosecutor who’s investigating key White House allies, and threatening violence against peaceful protesters. As his re-election run sputters, Trump’s accelerating the rate of his attacks on democracy.

Trump’s at war with an unraveling America, that much is clear. The parallel reality is that the American press corps does not know how to deal with this frightening scenario. Or it does know, it just doesn’t have the courage to put that into practice. Too timid to call Trump out as a radical saboteur who ferments racial violence for political purposes, the Beltway media busies itself chronicling his controversies, documenting his “falsehoods” (never “lies”), and occasionally highlighting his hypocrisy. But an honest discussion about Trump’s plot against America? That’s not really allowed in the news pages.

It needs to be.

Just this month, as part of his dangerous blueprint, Trump:

  • Falsely claimed the Covid-19 pandemic is “dying out,” while urging states to loosen restrictions even as local infection rates spike.
  • Withdrew America from the World Health Organization during a pandemic.
  • “Joked” about 110,000 pandemic deaths in the U.S.
  • Boosted a fringe, right-wing conspiracy theory from a group the FBI has deemed to be a potential domestic terrorist threat.
  • Shared a clearly doctored video (of children!) with his 80 million Twitter followers.
  • Was tagged by Facebook for trying to “glorify violence” online.
  • Unilaterally decided to allow Russian leader Vladimir Putin attend the upcoming G7 Summit. (Russia was suspended in 2014 after it unlawfully annexed Crimea.)
  • Unleashed military-style forces on peaceful protesters outside the White House so he could stage a photo-op at a nearby church.
  • Attacked an injured 75-year-old peace activist in Buffalo, N.Y., as a terrorist sympathizer.

Meanwhile, we learn in the new book from Trump’s former national security aide, John Bolton, that Trump:

  • Promised to remove federal prosecutors who were going after a Turkish bank because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked him to intervene.
  • Insisted the Ukrainian government hand over incriminating information about Joe Biden before he would release congressionally approved aid to the country.
  • Signaled to China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, that he was willing to reverse prosecution against Chinese firms as a personal favor, and offered to reduce tariffs on Chinese goods if the Beijing agreed to buy more American agricultural products, in hopes it would boost Trump’s re-election chances.

If that’s not a plot against America, I don’t know is.

That phrase comes from Philip Roth’s landmark novel, and recent HBO series, “The Plot Against America.” It tells the alternative American history in which isolationist Charles Lindbergh ousts Franklin Roosevelt as president after FDR’s first term, then refuses to enter World War II, forms a non-aggression pack with Hitler’s victorious Germany, and allows fascism to flourish in America. Told through the eyes of a Jewish family in Newark, N.J., who are threatened with a government dispersement program, the novel offers up the chilling what-if scenario of an American president who actively plots against America’s best interest, while curtailing liberties and freedom for all.

When it was published in 2004, the book’s plot was written off by some as implausible, and even alarmist. Today, it’s been like watching the Trump presidency unfold in slow motion as we witness the unthinkable — a president scheming against America.

We’re taught that the President of the United States has the country’s best interest at heart. There’s constant disagreement, from administration to administration, over what those interests and priorities are. But the idea that the commander-in-chief would purposefully try to harm America’s security and shatter its standing on the global stage had been an unthinkable scenario, until now. The mounting evidence leaves no doubt that as a country, we’re facing a defining crisis.

For journalists, that means there’s a pressing need to aggressively address the bigger picture about a president who seems determined to watch America crumble and decay, on his watch. What matters now is asking the difficult questions and pondering what the Trump presidency is truly about, no matter what darkness lurks in the shadows.

The recent twin towers of the pandemic and historic, Black Lives Matter street protests leave no doubt about the urgency, as Trump actively and purposefully makes both nationwide crises worse with each passing day.

“He did not try to calm the roiling anger, as the leader of a country beset by strife and division should. Instead, he poured fuel on the flames of unrest,” a Houston Chronicle editorial recently noted. “Think about that. Our nation’s most prestigious public office, along with the man who occupies it, had to be cited by a social media platform for glorifying violence.”

As for the purposeful vacuum of leadership surrounding the pandemic, “It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” a New Zealand epidemiologist told the Washington Post last week.

She’s right, the administration has given up. And that’s if you believe Trump’s team ever put up a fight in the first place.

I don’t think they did. Instead, Trump ordered a stand-down order for the virus invasion.

And we still don’t know why.

 

From Press Run Eric Boehlerthttps://pressrun.media/subscribe

 

 

Humiliating Mega MAGA failure as Trump admits he ordered his people to slow down Coronavirus testing

Less than 7000 covidiots show up for Tyrant Trump’s rally

Tyrant Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election campaign sputtered badly on Saturday night as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass rally in months and found a far smaller crowd than his aides had promised him, then delivered a disjointed speech that did not address the multiple crises facing the nation or scandals battering him in Washington.

The weakness of Trump’s drawing power and political skills, in a state that voted for him overwhelmingly and in a format that he favors, raised new questions about his electoral prospects for a second term at a time when his poll numbers were already falling. And rather than speak to the wide cross-section of Americans who say they are concerned about police violence and systemic racism, he continued to use racist language, describing the coronavirus as “Kung Flu.”

While Trump’s campaign had claimed that more than a million people had tickets for the rally, the 19,000-seat BOK Center was at least one-third empty during the rally crowd now is estimated to have been less than 7000! A second, outdoor venue was so sparsely attended that he and Mike Pence both canceled appearances there and the stage was taken down. Trump was furious about the unused outdoor stage and the comparatively thin crowd in the stadium, according to two people familiar with his reaction. News broadcasts carried video of the partially empty stadium, and even the Drudge Report, a reliably conservative website, carried an all-caps headline that said “MAGA LESS MEGA” with a picture of rows and rows of empty blue seats.

The disappointing turnout came as Trump already found himself under siege about his sudden firing of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and his losing legal battle over the release of a memoir full of damaging revelations by John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser. And in Tulsa, Mr. Trump faced criticism for ignoring pleas from officials about health risks to rallygoers and for restarting his “Make America Great Again!” rallies in a city where a white mob massacred hundreds of black residents 99 years ago.

In rambling, grievance-filled remarks, Trump made no reference to the Tulsa massacre of 1921 or to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis last month spurred global demands for racial justice. He also did not mention Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the United States and fell just a day before his rally.

Instead, the “idiot king” railed about “left-wing radicals” who he falsely claimed were rioting in cities across the country and praised police officers.

Trump once again shrugged off the threat from the coronavirus, which he also called the “Chinese virus” at one point, and bragged that he has done “a phenomenal job” fighting the pandemic. He acknowledged that increased testing for the virus revealed more cases of infection, which he felt made the country look bad.

“So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down,’” he said.

Many of the thousands of Trump supporters at the rally did not wear masks or stand six feet apart — health precautions that Trump himself continues to ignore. Health experts remained concerned that the event could be a dangerous incubator for the virus, spreading through the building’s recirculated air.

A few hours before the event, the campaign disclosed that six Trump campaign staff members who had been working on the rally had tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening. Two members of the Secret Service in Tulsa also tested positive for the virus, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump, who was made aware of the sick campaign aides before departing for the rally, was incensed that the news was made public, according to two people familiar with his reaction.

While rallies are Mr. Trump’s favorite events, election-year politics has changed since his last one, on March 2. The coronavirus has largely shut down the campaign trail, and more recently the national political conversation has been dominated by a fierce debate over police violence against black Americans after the killing of Mr. Floyd. This altered political landscape has had little effect on Trump, whom advisers describe as feeling like a caged animal during the national lockdown that forced him to abandon most travel. They say he is determined to recapture the excitement of his pre-virus campaign rallies, but this one seemed unlikely to offer much relief to a whiney Donald Trump.

Trump flew to Oklahoma amid mounting questions about the firing of Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, whose office had investigated some of Trump’s closest allies, imprisoning Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and beginning an inquiry into Rudolph W. Giuliani, his current lawyer.

On Saturday afternoon, Attorney General William P. Barr announced that Mr. Trump had personally approved Mr. Berman’s firing. But soon afterward, as Mr. Trump left the White House for the trip to Tulsa, Trump lied and said that “we have a very capable attorney general, so that’s really up to him. I’m not involved.”

The campaign had chosen to return first to Oklahoma, which Donald won by 36 points in 2016, assuming his appearance would be wildly popular there. Aides to Mr. Trump spent the week boasting about enormous interest from people in the rally, and Mr. Trump bragged on Saturday as he left for Oklahoma that “the crowds are unbelievable,” which proved false.

Some users of social media said on Saturday night that teenagers helped keep attendance at the rally down by seeking tickets they did not intend to use. TikTok and Twitter users posted that they had registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Trump’s campaign rally as a prank after @TeamTrump tweeted asking supporters to register for free tickets.

During his speech, Mr. Trump delivered a defensive, 15-minute explanation of images that showed him ambling slowly down a ramp after delivering the commencement address at the West Point military academy last weekend. He blamed his slow walk on “leather soles” on his shoes and said he was trying not to fall on his behind.

He also took several sips of water out of a glass after video at the West Point event showed him struggling to bring a glass up to his lips. He said he was trying to make sure he did not spill the water on his tie. The crowd applauded wildly.

Trump and his advisers hope the return to the campaign trail will help deflect attention from a daily stream of crises engulfing the White House. On Saturday, a federal judge refused to block the release of Mr. Bolton’s book, though he said the former national security aide may be personally liable for revealing classified information.

People close to Trump also said that the lack of regular adulation that he receives from the cheering crowds since the coronavirus lockdowns has left him morose and irritable. And his advisers had hoped that the rally would be a positive outlet for his energy, as opposed to his Twitter feed, where he has posted several self-destructive messages in the last several weeks.

Edited from a story in the New York Times

 

Trump’s slow-motion authoritarian take over is picking up some momentum

‘Wednesday night massacre’ at VOA and a Friday night attempted massacre at the Southern District of New York Department of Justice.

There is a lot of media attention focused on the SDNY debacle so we take a look at the decapitation of US Agency for Global Media (USAGM)

The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move that looks like the new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack intends to turn the agency into a propaganda arm of the administration. In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.

“They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN. A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected because they are republicans. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.

Three sources with knowledge of the changes said that each of the organizations’ boards were dissolved, and two of those sources said that one of the incoming board members is an official from Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian organization.

According to an internal memo obtained by CNN, a number of political appointees have been installed in management positions, and “until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval from the Chief Operating Officer; Vice President for Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management; Deputy Chief of Staff; or Chief of Staff.”

The source familiar said that requiring activities and communications to go through these officials “de facto puts the agency at a standstill.”

In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally of the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

The rash of firings came just hours after Pack, another Bannon ally, introduced himself to employees, nearly two weeks after being confirmed for the job.

USAGM says its mission is “is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” In addition to VOA, it oversees Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Open Technology Fund, and other entities.

“Once they destroy the reputation of the agencies, it will be impossible to restore,” the former official said. “Can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

 

 

From CNN – Jennifer Hansler and Brian Stelter,  Marshall Cohen

Trump continues to provoke hatred and civil strife

Yet another controversy involving Trump and his allies came about this week when Facebook removed some campaign ads that used an infamous symbol from the 1930s: a red inverted triangle, which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime used to identify political prisoners ranging from communists and liberals to members of opposition parties. Trump’s campaign has, in essence, responded that it didn’t use that symbol to promote Nazi ideology but to smear Antifa. Nonetheless, Trump’s critics have asserted that using that symbol in the first place was clueless and ignorant. And according to Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, a leaked internal document from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security makes Trump and his allies look even worse in this controversy.

“After Facebook removed the ads amid an outcry,” Sargent explains, “the Trump campaign continued to defend the use of the image — which was used by Nazis to identify political prisoners — by claiming it’s a ‘common Antifa symbol.’ The suggestion, of course, is that the image is justified by the idea that it’s associated with Antifa, so it’s merely a warning of a continuing menace to the country. ‘STOP ANTIFA,’ the ads say, warning of ‘dangerous MOBS of far-left groups’ that are ‘DESTROYING our cities.’”

Sargent adds, “Meanwhile, Trump and his top officials have continued to blame unrest and violence at protests on Antifa, to cast the violence more broadly as primarily left-wing in orientation. But the DHS document I obtained undercuts this series of claims.”

The leaked DHS document, according to Sargent, shows that Antifa has not been a major source of violence at the recent “Justice for George Floyd” protests that have been taking place all over the United States.

“The document — which is an assessment of ongoing ‘protest-related’ threats to law enforcement dated June 17 — makes no mention at all of Antifa in its cataloging of those threats,” Sargent notes. “The DHS document states that ‘anarchist and anti-government extremists pose the most significant threat of targeted low-level, protest-related assaults against law enforcement.’ It bases this assessment on ‘the observed ideologies of recent attackers and the body of reporting of tactics noted by violent opportunists used over the last two weeks.’ Thus, as of this week, ‘anarchist and anti-government extremists’ pose the most serious ongoing threat, according to Trump’s own Homeland Security Department.”

Although Trump and his allies have been smearing Antifa in order to terrorize Trump’s base of older white male voters, their assertions have demonstrated that they don’t know much about Antifa (which stands for “anti-fascist”). First, Antifa is a movement, not an organization. Second, Trumpistas tend to lump Antifa and Black Bloc anarchists together even though they’re separate movements. And Sargent, in his column, shows that he clearly knows the difference between Antifa and anarchists.

Sargent says of the DHS document, “Not only does this document not name Antifa, this description of generic ‘anarchist extremists’ does not describe what we’ve come to understand ‘Antifa’ to be. While there might be some loose overlap between Antifa and anarchists, Antifa isn’t even a group — and adherents are characterized by specific resistance to perceived neo-fascist movements. Meanwhile, the DHS document defines ‘anti-government extremists’ as motivated by ‘their belief that their liberties are being taken away by the perceived unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate actions of government officials or law enforcement.’ Obviously, that’s not Antifa either.”

Former DHS official Juliette Kayyem reviewed the document at Sargent’s request and told him, “This document shows that the government itself does not view Antifa as a significant threat in the homeland. The document shows how absurd the Trump campaign’s justification for using the symbol really is. It undercuts their defense.”

Although the DHS document doesn’t cite Antifa as a threat, it is specific about who it does consider a threat — and in addition to anarchists, it mentions white supremacists and the far-right Boogaloo movement (which is hoping to bring about a second civil war in the United States). In Northern California, Steven Carrillo — a man believed by the Department of Justice officials to be associated with the Boogaloo movement — has been charged with murder following the shooting of a security officer. And the DHS document that Sargent and Kayyem reviewed specifically mentions Carrillo.

Sargent writes, “The DHS document actually does cite the ‘Boogaloo movement’ as a threat in this context. It notes that Carrillo is likely associated with it, defining it as ‘a term used by some violent extremists from a variety of movements who seek to incite a race war or the collapse of society.’”

Sargent concludes his column by noting that the DHS document warns of “the possibility of more attacks on law enforcement” and quoting a former DHS official who told him that making misleading claims about Antifa does a disservice to law enforcement.

The official told Sargent, “Attributing the risk to one group (or mischaracterizing its structure) is dangerous, because it misses the holistic nature of the problem, excludes those that do present a danger and ultimately, puts law enforcement at increased risk.”

Source AlterNet – Alex Henderson

 

Donald Trump and his racist “Lost Cause”

By now it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that Donald Trump is one of the most notorious revisionists of any modern president, routinely authoring his own myths, lies and tall tales to counter the brutal reality of his incompetence, malevolence and despotism. It started from Day One, with his easily debunked insistence that his inauguration generated the largest audience in the history of audiences. His myth-making continues today with his whiny laments about his popularity backed with alleged “Democrat hoaxes” surrounding every one of his obvious crimes.

It’s no wonder, then, that Trump is a marketeer for the apocryphal “Lost Cause,” the toxic revisionist history that emerged in the decades following the Civil War and continues to flourish today. “History,” by the way, is used loosely here, given that the Lost Cause is nothing more than a series of dubiously manufactured myths — counterfactual propaganda designed to absolve southern whites of the sins that precipitated and fueled their separation from, and rebellion against, the United States in the name of preserving the right to own African slaves.

We can plainly observe the poison of the Lost Cause flowing through Trump’s blurts whenever he defends monuments to Confederate commanders, or when he defends the Confederate monikers for various U.S. Army bases. His most infamous defense of the “very fine people” who protested in support of the Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, back in 2017, was torn directly from the Lost Cause playbook.

Additionally, the police violence we’re witnessing today, along with the arguments of those who defend it, has its roots in the Lost Cause as well. Indeed, so much of the racism that currently exists, 155 years after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, is manifested and justified by the myths of the Lost Cause.

Origins of the Lost Cause

In many ways, the Civil War was the prototype for 20th century-style warfare. The military technology that was developed immediately before and during the war vastly outpaced the archaic Napoleonic tactics used during the first several years of Civil War battles. The new rifled musket was capable of firing conical Minié ball rounds faster, farther and more accurately than the old spherical rounds, yet massed armies continued to march in long lines of battle, shoulder-to-shoulder, within close range of the other side, causing a bloodbath of unprecedented magnitude.

Photography, another relatively new technology at the time, would deliver the images of mangled casualties to the public for the first time, leaving no doubt as to the mind-blowing devastation of war. Likewise, nightmarishly awful trench warfare emerged in 1864 — a “dress rehearsal” for World War I, as historian Shelby Foote once described it — adding to the ugliness and carnage. The Victorian “picnic” at Bull Run in 1861 would quickly evolve into the apocalyptic trench combat of Spotsylvania Courthouse and Petersburg three years later.

After the war, while the task of reunifying the nation began to take shape, few observers and participants forgot about the grisly horror show that had occurred. (Contemporary historians suggest that around 750,000 men died in the war, a larger number than was understood at the time — and by far the largest body count of any war in American history.) Someone would have to pay for the carnage, Northerners commonly believed. From there, several schools of thought emerged about how best to handle reincorporating the former Confederate states back into the Union. Radical Reconstructionists wanted to punish the South, executing the perpetrators of secession and redefining the Southern way of life so that secession could never happen again. Others wanted a more moderate, or more conciliatory approach, including Abraham Lincoln and his ham-fisted (not to mention overtly racist) successor, Andrew Johnson.

While Northern politicians and Union generals engaged in shepherding the policies of Reconstruction, authors, journalists and special interest groups sympathetic to the South began work on the reunification of hearts and minds: This was what would eventually emerge as the Lost Cause, a term first coined by Southern author Edward Pollard in 1866. In other words, revisionist historians began to address the task of reunifying white people of the North and white people of the South following so much brutality, with a clear motivation to exonerate southern whites.

The myths of the Lost Cause

While Northern politicians and Union generals engaged in shepherding the policies of Reconstruction, authors, journalists and special interest groups sympathetic to the South began work on the reunification of hearts and minds: This was what would eventually emerge as the Lost Cause, a term first coined by Southern author Edward Pollard in 1866. In other words, revisionist historians began to address the task of reunifying white people of the North and white people of the South following so much brutality, with a clear motivation to exonerate southern whites.

The central thrust of the Lost Cause was to reframe the animators of secession — Southern landowners and politicians, along with the insurgents who formed the Confederate military — as having fought for the more “noble” cause of Southern states’ rights. The goal was to erase slavery as the obvious and express intention of secession, even though the preservation of slavery is clearly enumerated in the Confederate constitution.

When Donald Trump defended the names of U.S. military bases named for rebel generals, he borrowed directly from the Lost Cause mythology: “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” The Lost Cause was all about rebranding traitors and racists as having fought bravely for ideals like “heritage,” “freedom” and “nobility.”

Again, this entirely counterfactual, transforming greedy villains who were responsible for the subjugation of African Americans and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, into kinder, gentler souls who were only interested in defending their cultural heritage and the absolutist interpretation of the 10th Amendment. It’s not exactly a shock to learn that Trump and other Republican leaders subscribe to this “cultural heritage” fiction.

As bad as all that sounds, the subsequent myths of the Lost Cause are far more sinister and inexcusable.

One of the most dominant prongs of the Lost Cause was the characterization of Blacks as a common enemy of both northern and southern whites. Mythologists believed that if white people were fighting Black people, then white people wouldn’t fight each other again. The goal of smearing African Americans as the enemy of white America involved the whole-cloth fabrication of cultural myths about African Americans, emerging at the dawn of the 20th century and beyond. Architects of the mythology felt that Black people didn’t possess a cultural identity and therefore identities could be entirely invented for them by white supremacists.

Prime movers of the Lost Cause taught, therefore, that slaves actually liked being slaves, and were treated better than some whites. Likewise, the myth of Black Confederates, fighting willingly alongside their owners, emerged from similar sources. (In reality, while thousands of Black men accompanied their masters into the Confederate army, they were “camp slaves,” not soldiers. There is no reliable evidence that any Black people, free or enslaved, voluntarily fought for the rebel cause.)

Publications and, later, films would portray Black men as unpredictable thieves or as lazy and shiftless “takers,” as well as wanton rapists and subjugators of white people.

D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent classic “Birth of a Nation” is the best known cinematic example of Lost Cause myth-making, though other silent films of the early 20th century were arguably more insulting, with titles and plots too horrendous to publish here.

The white protagonist of “Birth of a Nation,” fictional Confederate veteran Ben Cameron, invents the Ku Klux Klan to take back his southern heritage. Cameron’s KKK is portrayed as an avenging army of swashbuckling heroes who swarm to the rescue of a white woman being surrounded in her cabin by a platoon of lascivious Black soldiers. Naturally, these soldiers are played by white actors in blackface who behave in offensively stereotypical ways.

Black Union soldiers, meanwhile, are shown suppressing and intimidating white voters during Reconstruction. In one scene, several bayonet-wielding Black men disenfranchise white voters at a polling place. Black politicians, including the Silas Lynch character, are unanimously elected to the state legislature via the intimidation of white citizens at the hands of Black troops. The all-Black legislature then goes on to pass laws that strip white people of their right to vote. The politicians, meanwhile, ogle and harass white women in the street, but only when they aren’t getting drunk and eating chicken legs.

Given the pernicious vilification of Blacks during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s no surprise that in the United States between 1882 and 1968, white people lynched more than 4,400 African-Americans, in large part based on racial resentments and prejudices driven by the fiction of the Lost Cause.

Similarly, the epidemic of police violence against Blacks also has its roots in the Lost Cause.

In addition to the perpetuation of racist stereotypes, these myths were heavily borrowed to justify Jim Crow laws, which were specifically designed to oppress Southern Blacks. In Douglas Blackmon’s groundbreaking 2009 book, “Slavery by Another Name,” the author documents the symbiosis between Jim Crow laws, law enforcement and “neo-slavery” that lasted well into the 1940s and beyond. Blackmon detailed how nonsense laws against things like “vagrancy” were used to supply backwoods plantations and mines with slave labor. In the Jim Crow South, cops would arrest Black men for, in one example, not carrying proof of employment, then hustle them through kangaroo courts and eventually disappear them into a new and supposedly legal form of slavery in which many African-Americans were worked to death. The practice survived until Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the FBI to shut it down at the outset of World War II, yet forms of slave labor continue to exist within the modern prison-industrial complex today.

Blackmon’s stories of “vagrancy” arrests and the like also call to mind the atrocious “papers, please” policy enacted by Arizona’s SB 1070 law in 2010. (It was partially, but not entirely, struck down by the Supreme Court two years later.)

The Lost Cause in the modern era

The modern Republican “Southern strategy” has been all about exploiting Lost Cause myths to scare white people into voting for GOP candidates. The Reagan-era notion of “welfare queens” played up the “lazy and shiftless” stereotypes of the Lost Cause. The “makers and takers” slogan is a less overt iteration of the same thing.

The so-called “war on drugs” turned out to be just another excuse to lock up African Americans. Blacks arrested for possessing crack cocaine, for example, ended up serving longer prison sentences than whites arrested for possessing the same quantity of powder cocaine.

In 1988, Republican political strategist Lee Atwater, along with George H.W. Bush’s media consultant, future Fox News founder Roger Ailes, devised the infamous Willie Horton commercial in order to scare white people into voting against Michael Dukakis. Two years later, the late Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina rolled out his famous “white hands” commercial, which cautioned white people that affirmative action would allow black people to take their jobs.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” video was exploited by Fox News and far-right media to scare white people into voting against Barack Obama, who had just about every Lost Cause trope catapulted at him throughout his two terms.

Fox News celebrities like Bill O’Reilly have routinely employed racist myths to attack the Obamas. O’Reilly once defended “the white power structure that controls America.” He also said about Michelle Obama, “I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels.”

Social media memes of Barack Obama dressed as a witch doctor or the Obamas as monkeys or the Obama-era White House lawn littered with watermelons were all pure turn-of-the-century Lost Cause stereotypes.

All told, the Lost Cause has been one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in world history. Its themes continue to be intrinsic to the white misperception of post-Civil War racial history, including Trump’s “heritage” defense of military base names, his defense of Charlottesville white supremacists, and his fetish for law enforcement violence. Likewise, his routine attacks against African-American journalists (e.g., Yamiche Alcindor of PBS and Don Lemon of CNN), athletes (e.g., former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick) and lawmakers (e.g., “Low IQ” Rep. Maxine Waters) invariably echo the stereotypes of the Lost Cause.

It’s no wonder Trump is a proud student of its fiction. The Lost Cause has been so completely absorbed by the confirmation bias of white racists that its lies have become inextricably bound to conventional wisdom, printed and distributed as legitimate history for way too long. This is why it’s been so difficult to shake loose, and it’s why there’s such a powerful movement now against police violence and the continued lionizing of Confederate insurgents. It’s taken more than a century to finally begin to pull down some of the literal monuments to the Lost Cause, as well as to successfully achieve bans against the Confederate battle flag.

We’re making progress now, but how many African Americans and other people of color have been stripped of their constitutional rights along the way? How many have suffered and died as a consequence of these fictitious justifications for American racism, especially for our history of secession and slavery? The white supremacist mythmakers believed they were keeping the (white) peace after four gruesome years of war, but all they were doing was rationalizing more death — not to mention injustice — at the hands of racist vigilante groups, cops, politicians, corporations and scores of white supremacist followers, all brainwashed by these 155-year-old lies passed off as “history” and “heritage.”

 

 

Raw Story Bob Cesca, Salon – Commentary

HumCo’s Dept of Aviation get this weeks “dumb ass” award

Flight service to and from Southern California will return this summer with supposed new health guidelines that pretend to ensure the safety of passengers and airport workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. WTF!?!

Here is their bogus reassurance “We’ve been working closely with our Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health branch and the County’s Emergency Operations Center to make sure we are ready for changes in travel patterns and guidance,”. “As regulations and conditions around the state change, we need to adapt as well.” Translation: “we’re going to sacrifice community safety so a few people and make money” Their justification is the claim that the return of the LAX service will provide more efficient means of supporting our medical community through shipment of testing supplies, blood samples, and other critical medical equipment directly to and from LAX. While that seems reasonable on the face it, the problem is it also provides more efficient means for the coronavirus currently on the rise in So Cal to land in Humboldt County.

Let’s get real, charter a flight for medical supplies and equipment with no passengers and just a tested crew.
This airport should have been shut down in February. There is no way to make air travel free of the spread of Covid-19 unless everyone on board is fitted with (PPE) personal protective equipment.